Cybercriminals now targeting tax pros to cash in on fraudulent returns
Tax professionals are aware of the issue. “We try to tell our members on a regular basis, even weekly this time of the year, is go out and check your EFINs [tax pro number]. See how many returns are being filed,” said Larry Gray, a CPA, who is also the government liaison for the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).
Additionally, tax professionals should educate everyone in their firm to beware of emails, and never click on links or attachments they did not request.
Both tax professionals and individuals should practice good cyber-hygiene, such as installing anti-virus and anti-malware software, using strong passwords, and encryption data to stay safe from tax fraud.
Barlow also recommends that consumers use a different email address for banking and taxes.
“Have all of those kind of official business things you do in a separate email address, where you’re not buying things, and that email address isn’t full of spam and things that you’re accidentally going to click on,” he said.
And individuals should not be afraid to ask questions of their tax pro.
“It’s completely appropriate to ask your tax professional how they’re protecting your information, where they back it up, you know, what types of protocols they have in place on what information they’ll send you via email, as an example, and what they won’t do,” Barlow said.
On the Money airs on CNBC Saturday at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.